It is said that America is a free country, and when freedom is defined in a certain way this is true. However, many Americans are anything but free. They are enslaved by pornography, by legal and illegal substances, by greed, by debt, be envy, by jealousy, by anger, by deceit, by unhealthy relationships, by hidden sin, and similar things. Many of us appear to be free, but in truth we are slaves in disguise.
The Bible tells us why people can seem to be free but are not – it’s because they are living under the letter of the law of God, and the letter kills (2 Corinthians 3:6). Their knowledge of the law comes either from the Bible itself, or from their conscience which is the law of God written on the heart. People who’ve never even seen a Bible know that they should not kill, lie, commit adultery, and many other things. This is because God created us to know right from wrong, and we all do.
When we knowingly or unknowingly use our freedom to choose against God’s law, we do violence to our freedom. By exercising our will against God’s will, we enslave our will because sin comes at a great price. In fact, for sin, God demands our life. As the Lord told Adam and Eve, on the day they rebelled against him they would surely die. They did rebel, and spiritually they did die. They lost their freedom and were now slaves of sin, and eventually their physical bodies past from the earth as a sign of what was true of their spirits.
This dynamic of sin and death occurs for everyone who violates the law of God on the page or in the heart. In this way, “the letter kills.” It’s not that God’s law itself is evil, quite the opposite, it is holy and true and good. In fact, it came with great glory (2 Corinthians 3:7). It’s our sin that veils us from seeing the glory that’s plainly in the law of God. It’s our sin that hardens our hearts toward God and his will, wisdom, and ways. It’s our sin that kills because we cannot honor the glorious letter of God’s gracious law.
“But when one turns to the Lord [Jesus], the veil is removed” (2 Corinthians 3:16). Why? Because Jesus paid the price for our sin by dying on the cross. He took our punishment for us that we might be reconciled to God, and being in a right relationship with God is true freedom. This is why the Bible says that “where the Spirit of the Lord [Jesus] is there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Freedom from sin, freedom from the penalty of sin, freedom to be in a right relationship with God, freedom to choose what’s right.
And once we find true freedom in Jesus, this lifelong privilege becomes ours: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus has bought our freedom to see his glory and our freedom to be changed into his image. So why not turn to him, forsake your slavery, and enter deep into true freedom today?